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Old 21-01-2010, 18:07   #1
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Centerboard Keels in Blue Water Vessels

In my consideration of blue water vessels, I have shied away from centerboard keel configurations. Maybe I read something a while back advising this or maybe it just seems like it is one more moving part that could break at an inopportune time in a distant locale. How do others feel about the centerboard keel configuration in a blue water boat?

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Old 21-01-2010, 18:15   #2
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It has its place for areas of shallow water such as yours and the waterway where things get chancy for a keel of 4.5 to 6 feet. Herreshoff designed some pretty neat boats with centerboards and there are many good cruisers and racers that have used them in the past. I would not rule them out. Yes, they have more moving parts but if well maintained they will last a good long while.

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Old 21-01-2010, 18:20   #3
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There's been some good discussion before. I did a custom google search on centerboard bluewater found in the search drop down button between New Posts and Quicklinks buttons.


centerboard bluewater - Google Search
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Old 21-01-2010, 19:50   #4
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Moving parts....generally 1...not counting the winch
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Old 21-01-2010, 20:00   #5
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Ted Hood has designed plenty of centerboarders that are fine blue water boats. The Wauquiez Hood 38.8 and several of the Little Harbor models have centerboards. The alubats are also well respected.
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Old 21-01-2010, 20:15   #6
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They are just like any other boat, one has to do their maintenance.
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Old 21-01-2010, 21:20   #7
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Don't forget the southerly yachts which is almost totally centerboard/lifting keel range of yachts... Excellent yachts and one that is on my very short list..
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Old 21-01-2010, 22:01   #8
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I belive in the keeping it simple concept. Yes you have to do maintaince on it, but remember it is in a area that is hard to get to. The idea of a critical piece of hardware that is pretty inaccessable is to me not a good combination for a blue water voyager. Not saying it can't or hasn't been done. I like the Little Harbor boats as well. But, I for one would not purchase a centerboard boat for blue water cruising.
Just one more thing to go bad, maintain, and worry about.
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Old 21-01-2010, 22:54   #9
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The French are experts at designing and building centre board blue water yachts (a lot of them are alloy) I have a trismus 37 that is around 35 years old and has been sailed from France to the Antarctic, to Alaska, and back through the Pacific, and now resides in New Zealand.
It has all the good things that shoal draft allows and the only thing it lacks is windward ability, she will sail at 45degrees all day but ease off to 50 and she lifts her skirts and gets moving. We keep the main board down when on the wind and trim with the aft board. when reaching we use the boards to get balance though only in strong winds. When running we only use the aft board. Both boards are 20mm alluminium and are not ballasted, light and easy to use. they are also able to be removed with the boat in the water if needed although I have never had to. Would I buy another C/boarder Yes, and preferably in Alluminium.
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Old 22-01-2010, 06:59   #10
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There are certainly capable bluewater boats out there with this configuration. If you don't need it, it might be worth thinking about the maintenance of it but if you want a large vessel that can cruise in a place like the Bahamas, it might be your only choice. Some more builders of respected boats that use them are Shannon and Hinckley.
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Old 22-01-2010, 08:26   #11
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It all goes to the design and construction. My Moody has a retractable keel and it's 25 years old and the keel works great. Just some simple maintenance just like everything else on a boat. I would not rule them out as a blanket statement but may even become desirable.

As an example we draw 5'3" keel up and 9' down. Putting the board down when going to weather makes a huge difference and pulling it up when reaching or running adds up to a knot of speed. So there are pluses.
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Old 22-01-2010, 09:21   #12
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Pendulum type heavy centerboard may be very dangerous in a roll over situation. A daggerboard that can be fixed seems a notch more secure if kept locked. Think inverted.
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Old 22-01-2010, 10:28   #13
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I hate to sail inverted. Very uncomfortable. : )
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Old 22-01-2010, 11:01   #14
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Jimmy Cornell chose a 43' aluminum centerboard Ovni for his latest boat, Aventura III. He seems to be very happy with the boat. From his website...

Jimmy completed a four year circumnavigation on Aventura III in 2005 and continues to regard the OVNI concept as perfectly suited to the current cruising requirements. Since her launch in early 1998, Aventura III has covered over 65,000 miles.
I think I recall reading somewhere that he has occasionally "taken soundings with the centerboard", winched it up, and moved on.

He answers some questions about his boat, including the stability issue, on his website...

Ovni FAQs —
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Old 22-01-2010, 11:27   #15
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There are plenty of really good centreboard boats out there crossing oceans and visiting the farthest flung places - just look at the track record of Steve Pope's Trismus above.

In open water off the wind these boats are very fast, stable and easy to sail - not at all hard on their crews. They aren't the closest winded boats, but no worse than many keeled cruisers. It's taken us a while to learn how to get the best out of ours upwind, but we're getting there, and good sails do help.

But when you get to the other side, they are great for exploring where other boats can't go, and if that's your poison then by all means take a closer look. We only draw 2'6" with the plate and rudder raised, and can dry out upright if needs be, and are really enjoying having true shoal draft.

Both the rudder and plate on ours are controlled by simple hydraulics, and much of the servicing can be achieved via access plates internally. It's true that there is a little more maintenance, but the systems do have a good reputation for reliability. Bear in mind that there are literally thousands of 'deriveurs' in French ownership, and if there was a major issue with them we'd all have heard about it.

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